One large glass of wine a day slashes a woman’s chance of conceiving, research shows. Experts believe that too much alcohol interrupts the female natural cycle and may also damage the egg.
But they say women can still drink small amounts when trying for a baby as there is no evidence the odd glass hampers fertility
Danish researchers studied 6,120 women from aged 21 to 45 who were trying to conceive, from June 2007 to January 2016. They all completed questionnaires on how often they had alcohol and exactly what they drank.
The results published in the BMJ show that women who had at least a 250ml glass a day – equivalent to 14 servings a week – were 18 per cent less likely to conceive over a year.
But women who had slightly less – one to 13 servings – did not experience any reduction in conception chances.
The researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark also found that spirits seemed to have a small effect on fertility.
Women who drank one measure a week were 11 per cent less likely to conceive while those who had two measures reduced their chances by 13 per cent. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) guidelines say women should be teetotalers whilst trying for a baby and throughout the pregnancy, as there is some evidence this can harm the foetus.
But other experts said these results showed there was no need for them to give up alcohol completely.
Dr Annie Britton, an expert in alcohol consumption at University College London, says that the results “offer some reassurances” to couples trying to get pregnant. She said it suggests that “total abstinence may not be necessary to maximise conception rates” because “if alcohol is consumed moderately, it seems that this may not affect fertility.”
However, it would be wise to avoid binge drinking, both for the potential disruption to menstrual cycles and also for the potential harm to a baby during early pregnancy.
Spirits seemed to have a small effect on fertility. Women who drank one measure a week were 11 per cent less likely to conceive – while two measures reduced fertility by 13 per cent.
If a couple is experiencing difficulty in conceiving, it makes sense for both partners to cut down on their alcohol intake. Professor Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics, University of Kent, said: “The overwhelming message of this study is ‘steady as she goes.’
If you do drink while trying to have children, do it in moderation and don’t binge drink. Professor Simon Fishel, Managing Director, CARE Fertility, one of the largest providers of private fertility clinics, said: “The study appears to give some reassurances that, in the general population who wish to conceive, moderate alcohol drinking in this population does not appear to affect the chance of conception.”